Consumer Data Research Centre

Details for Students

The CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme gives masters level students the opportunity to conduct their dissertation with the co-supervision of a large Business. The projects offer students a chance to work with consumer datasets on real-world business problems. To submit an application please use the relevant student application form.


A brief overview of the scheme:

  • Students apply to projects which proposed by businesses
  • Successful applicants undertake their dissertations over the spring and summer, with regular supervisory meetings with their business sponsors. Sometimes projects are undertaken on site at the sponsors head office (this is made clear in the project proposal forms)
  • Students are also offered regular support from a supervisor from their own university as they normally would
  • Business sponsors usually provide £500 in sponsorship, plus travel expenses, to be paid upon successful completion of the project
  • PDF copies of (completed) dissertations are submitted at the start of September to their business sponsor and also to the CDRC
  • Each dissertation is considered for a cash prize (£500, £250 and £250) to be awarded at an academic conference, held in London, in October
  • Students will be invited to produce A1 posters of their work and also present these at the conference
  • Students will also be invited to produce a 600 word extended abstract for their projects to be published on the CDRC website

The scheme offers students:

  • A stimulating project to work on
  • Co-supervision from a major UK business
  • Industry advice on how data are used in real-world problem solving, and experience of addressing problems that matter
  • A chance of winning one of three prizes (£500, £250 and £250), awarded to the best three dissertations (funded by the CDRC)
  • An all-expenses-paid opportunity to showcase their research findings to an audience of leading businesses and academics; this forms part of an academic conference that is hosted in London in October
  • An opportunity to have their work published and made freely available on the CDRC website

The scheme presents an invaluable opportunity for students who are wishing to pursue a wide range of successful careers related to business and data insight.

Please also see the FAQs at the bottom of this page.

How to apply

Once you have chosen a project to apply for, please submit a student application form (which includes a 3,500 characters cover letter).

If you choose to apply for multiple projects (up to three), please submit a separate form per project. Please note they will be processed chronologically and we advise concentrating your efforts on a smaller number of positions.

Selected applicants will be invited to the interview stage with the business partner. Please note that the application process can take several weeks and projects are allocated on a rolling basis, so please apply early to avoid disappointment. The status column on the home page indicates whether the application process for each particular project is open or closed.

Students should also read the Student Application Guidance sheet before submitting an application.



The CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme is organised by George Intzesiloglou (UCL), Paul Longley (UCL) and Keith Dugmore (Demographics Users Group) and has been supported by over 25 companies and the Demographics User Group since it was introduced in 2012.

The scheme supports the ESRC’s aim of developing its engagement between academia and the private sector, particularly in the field of large data sets. The scheme provides a unique and invaluable opportunity for Masters students to work on large commercial datasets which would otherwise be unobtainable or extremely costly. It also provides opportunities to conduct research on real-world problems faced by large businesses. Consequently, the scheme has had positive implications for graduate recruitment. Most of the students from previous years of the scheme immediately went on to work in the data industry (some at their sponsor companies). In addition, 10 students have joined the CDRC as research students – some of which are pursuing PhDs with the support of their original sponsors from the dissertation scheme.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the research take place?

The research can take place for any duration after April, although we ask a PDF copy of the dissertation to be submitted in September so that they can be sent to the judging panel. The intention of this scheme was that it would fit in with the schedules set by your own institution. If your application is successful you will be invited to a meeting (face-to-face or telephone) with a business contact where you can agree on a work schedule that fits in with your degree scheme.

Where does the research take place?

This depends on the project so please check the project description page and see the “Would any work by the student need to be carried out onsite at the Company with the exception of supervisory meetings?” box. The majority of projects enable the student to work offsite. However, some may request that you work from their head office to access their data and also to benefit from their onsite support. In addition, some sponsors are flexible, the student can choose to work onsite if they wish. If the project is listed as onsite then please ensure that you are able and willing to work from their office before applying.

Are there any fees?

No. In fact, most companies offer £500 sponsorship (as indicated in the “Financial assistance offered by the company” box in the project descriptions.

Do you offer any guidance for applications?

Please consider the Student Application Guidance sheet before submitting an application. Your cover letter should: 1) Highlight your relevant skills and experience, and summarise any other relevant strengths you might have. 2) It should consider why you have interests in the research area and how it may be relevant to your future career or research. 3) Consider how you might approach the project.

Can I apply for multiple projects?

Yes, up to three, but you would need to indicate an order of preference. In addition, you would need to complete a cover letter for each project individually and we strongly recommend that you take the time to write targetted cover letters for each project rather than general summaries of skills and interests. Your applications will be processed in order of preference. As this scheme requires a lot of resources from the business sponsors, each application is processed chronologically so we recommend that you concentrate on one topic.

Are there deadlines for applications?

No. Projects are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. Although please note the application process can take up to several weeks. You are encouraged to submit applications early to avoid disappointment. The status column on the home page indicates whether the application process for each particular project is open or closed.